To say that Jeremy Shrader loves good music would be an extreme understatement. The love comes through in the notes he plays on trumpet, his singing of classic songs, and in the many bands that he leads which include the New Memphis Hepcats, the Hot Memphis Five, and the Jeremy Shrader Octet. Throughout his musical career in Memphis, he has always been quite busy, performing in a countless number of settings and situations, with jazz being his main love.
Born in Clarksville, Tennessee, Jeremy remembers hearing Southern gospel music early in life. “My parents were both musicians, with my dad being a drummer. My father and mother sang standards around the house like ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ and ‘Sentimental Journey.’ While growing up, I was influenced by church music and was also into early hip hop which led me into jazz.” Jeremy started playing piano when he was nine or ten, picked up the guitar along the way, and in middle school started on trumpet so as to play with the school band. “When I was in high school, I really started getting into swing and big bands, playing in the jazz band. From there I started exploring other jazz genres.”
He also picked up experience playing in church and for community theater.
Jeremy attended the University Of Memphis, earning a degree in Jazz Composition and playing in the school concert band, marching band and jazz big band. He began to receive many calls to play trumpet with local groups and, while a sophomore, started his own 16-piece swing jazz big band, the New Memphis Hepcats. “A lot of my fellow band mates even today are alumni of the University of Memphis.” After he graduated in 2001, Jeremy worked for the Iris Chamber Orchestra at the Germantown Performing Arts Center while developing his different groups.
The New Memphis Hepcats perform fresh interpretations of 1930s/’40s swing. The big band has played in Washington D.C., Knoxville, and Columbia, South Carolina in addition to Memphis and have opened for comedian Bob Newhart. Jeremy not only plays trumpet with the orchestra and leads the group but provides the arrangements and contributes vocals. “I sang in church when I was young and started doing big band singing at 17 while still in high school. One of my first heroes in that style was Harry Connick Jr. He inspired me to write my own music in high school.” Jeremy is also a fan of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Joe Williams and Ella Fitzgerald. As a trumpeter, he admires Armstrong and Maynard Ferguson from the 1950s, and he considers Miles Davis to be a major influence both in his style and his playing.
Jeremy’s other jazz groups are branches of the Hepcats. His Hot Memphis Five (or Seven or whatever number of players is needed) gives him an opportunity to play traditional New Orleans jazz. He also leads combos ranging from a duo to an octet. In addition, Jeremy is frequently called to work as a freelancer including with a blues band called the Bluff City Backsliders. As a sideman he has appeared on a dozen recordings covering a wide variety of music. “I sometimes play blues, rock, country, folk and World Music, and I am involved in a lot of diverse projects. Jazz is my main love but I also try to take my own sound and apply it to whatever situation I am in.” As a record producer, he and his brother-in-law Matt Timberlake co-founded the Electric Room label in 2005 to document different projects that interest him including such groups as the fusion duo Breaking The Cage, Souvenir Satellite and Rind Stars (which also features Timberlake). Two years ago Jeremy produced a CD for the Memphis Tourism Foundation which features a dozen local bands performing material having to do with Memphis. The CD includes a performance of the Hepcats playing Jimmie Lunceford’s “Rhythm Is Our Business.”
The New Memphis Hepcats, which has now been together for 13 years, have thus far recorded two CDs: Live At The Hi Tone (where they used to perform every Monday night) and Swingpoly. The Hot Memphis Five recently appeared on a nationally syndicated NPR radio show called Says You. Jeremy’s combos and octet will be featured on an upcoming CD called Life Is What You Make It.
So it is fair to say that Jeremy Shrader keeps busy. “During the past year I’ve done a lot of recording, performed live at professional functions and club dates with various groups, been working on composing a lot of material ranging from jazz to folk, and have also given private guitar lessons. For the future I want to simply continue doing what I am doing.”
What Jeremy Shrader is doing is invigorating the Memphis jazz scene while playing the music that he loves. In every setting in which he appears, his spirited performances are well worth hearing.
–Scott Yanow, All Music Guide, Freelance Jazz critic and writer